The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Win a relief for Atapattu

Bridgetown: Sri Lanka’s series-clinching four-wicket win over the West Indies — during which they chased 313 — in Sunday’s second ODI came as a relief to captain Maravan Atapattu after recent personal failures.

“We live in a nation where cricket is almost a religion. Expectations are always high, especially with the batting,” Atapattu said. “I was under a bit of pressure before I came here and was trying not to pass this on to the others. But hopefully this will ease now.

“It is best to let the batsmen play their natural game. When they came in needing to score almost a run a ball, they showed they are natural stroke players and went after almost everything,” he said.

But Atapattu said he was not about to assume that Sri Lanka’s batting problems were over with the series win. “Today was satisfying, but I won’t be walking six inches off the ground saying our batting has clicked. I’m looking for consistency,” he said.

“But to chase more than 300 runs and win a series abroad is a tremendous achievement and I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

Upul Chandana, the surprise hero who struck a stunning 89, was just too happy. “I really enjoyed my knock,” said Chandana after scoring only his third half-century in 104 ODIs. “We were chasing a big total, but we tried very hard. I’m happy we won in the end.”

Brian Lara, who had earlier struck a majestic 116, was disappointed. He said his young team would have to learn a lot. “I was pleased with our total, but they batted very well,” said Lara.

“We put down a couple of chances in the closing overs and that cost us the match. We’ve to learn from our mistakes. We’ve to make sure we win the third game (at St Vincent Wednesday).”

Lara acknowledged his team’s bowling and fielding had wilted under pressure. “You are not going to win the game if one batsman gets three or four chances in the field. It’s a mental thing. We seem to be left wanting,” he said.

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